Our Boatman and Other Characters at Alaska Rivers Company
At Alaska Rivers Company, we take tremendous pride in our staff. All are CPR Certified, and have attended the Kenai River Guide Academy for fishing or rafting. Several are certified by the Coast Guard, and all our fishing guides carry the 52 million pieces of certification required by Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Chugach National Forest, Alaska State Parks, and the Department of Environmental Conservation. (Just to name a few).
We feel that our ARC guide crew is set apart because of the pride we instill in them about the importance of being a boatman, and not just a guide. We emphasize safety first and adhering to rules of the river. As a part of our staff, we expect our employees to be professional and personable at all times, on and off the water. Finally, we make sure our crew has fun in what they do, and humor in their work. By following these simple steps with our staff, we have created a fabulous loyal team that will provide you a safe, fun and professional Alaskan experience on the upper Kenai and at Alaska Rivers Company.
Erik Route – Owner
Born in Colorado and raised in a very small mountain community west of Denver, Erik spent the majority of his childhood summers in Alaska, mostly in Cooper Landing with his aunt, uncle and extended family. At 13, his uncle started to take him on 10-day wilderness float trips in Western Alaska. Erik confesses that he learned what it takes to become a true boatman: row a boat, cast a line, cuss and tell lies. Erik graduated from college in Colorado with a BS in Geology and then went to Montana to pursue his master’s degree. All of this schooling made him realize how much he missed rowing a boat, casting a line, cussing and telling lies. That’s why he moved to Alaska permanently in 2003 and became a local Cooper Landing resident and started working for Alaska Rivers Company where this sort of behavior is normal. Erik’s likes: boating (of course), skiing, wrestling brown bears, playing music, clubbing salmon, snow machining, hunting, cussing, telling lies.
Cory Route – Owner
This little gal might throw you for a loop when you first meet her, but don’t let this sweet soft-spoken Arkansas gal fool you. She runs the ARC crew year-round (okay… and Erik too) and keeps us all on our toes, organized, moving and groovin’. Cory has a degree in Geology as well, and is a top-notch Alaskan naturalist. In addition to being familiar with our wild berries, mushrooms, flowers and fauna, she’s quite artistic, painting, knitting hats and making jewelry. A competitive runner in college, Cory was at the top of the NCAA crowd in cross country running and pretty much likes to run everywhere… and forever! Cory also is quite competitive when it comes to skiing, skijoring, kayaking, softball and the basketball game bump. You definitely don’t mess with her at bump…
Gary Galbraith – Founder
Forty-Two years ago, Gary came upon the beautiful community of Cooper Landing and sank his roots into the banks of the Upper Kenai River. Starting with very little, he built Alaska Rivers Company to become one of the longest established rafting and fishing guide outfitters on the Kenai Peninsula. Gary still gets on the oars, and loves to show visitors the wonders of our great state. He also can be found quite often in his garden, or be seen flying above, sight seeing on sunny days.
Christie Sondrup – General Manager
This tough, hardworking yet bubbly Colorado gal moved to Cooper Landing a few years ago and had no problem fitting right in with our locals. Often you can find her hiking and exploring our trails, kayaking, canoeing or even swimming around in the icy waters of Alaska. Christie (aka Sundrop) received her Outdoor Recreation Degree from Red Rocks Community College and shares her love for nature and wildlife with everyone she interacts with. Her positive can do attitude, infectious smile and laugh makes every day at ARC, and on the water with her, a great experience. It’s no wonder that after working with us for a few years, she quickly moved up the ladder and is now our General Manager.
Kyle grew up in Cooper Landing and has been helping
out at ARC since he was old enough to reach a pair of oars. At age 12 Kyle began running scenic trips, and at age 18, received his Kenai River Fishing Guide License and Coast Guard license. An avid outdoorsman, Kyle has rafted/fallen out and swam the Grand Canyon twice, and enjoys backcountry skiing, whitewater rafting, slow pitch softball, fly fishing, ultimate frisbee, and pack rafting. Kyle currently attends University of Montana and is pursuing a degree in Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management. He enjoys pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain. Kyle is not into yoga.
Drew aka D-Money aka Drewski aka Drewbie aka Peter Pan is a long lasting Alaska Rivers Company boatman that will always show you the best time no matter what the situation may be. Having grown up in Anchorage and spending his time between Alyeska in Girdwood and his parents’ property on the Middle Kenai River his addiction for the outdoors grew quickly! Now days you will still find this creature of habit in many of the same places shredding the slopes or finessing a fish with a fly.
All you have to do is look at the photo on the right and you can tell that this boatman grew up at Alaska Rivers Company. As a child, he literally was found crawling in and out of coolers. But now that he is over 6 feet tall, you are more than likely to find him crawling in and out of rafts. Jimmy also grew up here in Cooper Landing, attending our little school, but now spends winters in the ski resort town of Girdwood. From there he travels to high school in Anchorage, but still finds time to hit the slopes to ski at Alyeska Resort. During the school year, he does cross country running, and nordic skis for South High. He also is an excellent piano player. However he hasn’t quite figured out how to fit a piano in one of our rafts yet to help entertain our guests. But he’s working on it!
Krissy is one of our go-to gals who works in our office, a top notch naturalist for conducting hikes and helps running shuttles. She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Park and Protected Area Management, and is currently going for her Masters at Alaska Pacific University. She is one busy gal, as she also works full time for AmeriCorps, and is very involved in educating our visitors and our little community on the impact of waste on our environment. That being said, be sure to not even think about littering around her… definitely not a good idea!
Robin started working at ARC to pay her way through college. She just graduated from the University of Montana but we still haven’t been able to get rid of her. She prefers rafting to getting a real job. Robin was born and raised up in Fairbanks on a reindeer farm. Her first canoe trip was when she was five days old and has been hanging around on boats ever since. In her spare time Robin enjoys skiing, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and ultimate frisbee.
If you join us for one of our guided hikes, you may have the pleasure of going out with this wonderful Alaskan lady. An experienced outdoors woman (hiking, fishing, hunting, chopping wood… you name it), Chris is right at home hiking and tromping around the wonderful trails in Cooper Landing. (And it doesn’t hurt that she is also a year round resident!) She is an avid birder and naturalist that loves to share her knowledge, so having her take you or your group out on a hike is a wonderful treat to add to your Alaskan experience.
Matt came aboard at ARC and immediately impressed us with his love for the outdoors, willingness to jump right in and his Mr. Fix It ability on all of our equipment and vehicles. With several years in the construction industry under his belt, Matt’s hands on experience has been a great addition to Alaska Rivers Company. Matt enjoys rafting, fishing, and great music.
Sean Smart grew up in Alaska, but after high school joined the U.S. Army and found himself down in the lower 48. While serving, he was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II, and also did a stint as a recruiter before finishing up 6 years of enlistment. He returned to Alaska to work in the oilfield industry in up in Prudhoe Bay. This type of employment provides two weeks off every month, and he found that he needed to keep himself busy in his down time, so Sean took up fly fishing. This type of activity caused what many in the Landing suffer from, known as “fishaddiction”. And to our benefit, he has joined our other addicts at ARC. Now even though Sean has a little issue with hitting softballs consistently, he fits right in with our staff with his peppy banter, incredible guitar playing and love for the outdoors.
During the summers while in high school, Heath came to Cooper Landing to visit his Uncle to work and play. He graduated from school in Arizona as the top wrestler in his weight class and also as an excellent baseball player. He’s now in college, and we’ve been lucky enough to have him join us here at ARC. Around camp, Heath is known for always wearing a back pack, so the pictures of him here are considered very rare. To give you an idea of his love for those bags with shoulder straps, we are pretty sure he wears one to dinner, for breakfast, to staff meetings, to the shower, and are pretty sure, to bed. Also, Heath has multiple colored packs in various styles and even his dry bag is a back pack! So guess what his nickname quickly became? Oh, yes, you guessed it… Mr. Backpack.
Kristina was born and raised in Illinois and just graduated from Northern Michigan University with an Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management degree. She has spent her last two summers leading sea kayaking tours on Lake Superior, but this summer she wanted to test different waters. She enjoys hiking, long walks on the beach looking for beach glass, and hanging out with any dog, anytime, anywhere.
Jake is a keeper you will always have a wonderful experience with this young man. He’s full of positive vibes and he will always do his best to inform his people about wildlife, aquatic nature, and the great outdoors of Alaska. AKA Chief is a great example of a true Alaskan; he grew up fishing and hunting near the Kenai River. He has a passion for casting a fly, rowing down rivers and catching big fish! You will find him in the rivers of Oregon and all over Alaska! He went to school at Central Oregon Community College for Outdoor Leadership & carries his ROUPV coast guard license.
One of our new guides, this young man grew up fishing the Kenai River at his family cabin with his big family and has grown up with a passion for Alaska’s wilderness. Chris loves to fish for just about anything, you just have to put a rod in his hand and he’ll go to work. His favorite fish on the river to catch is Sockeye Salmon, but won’t turn down the opportunity to catch a King. He also fishes all over New England and fishes competitively in bass tournaments. When the fish aren’t biting you can find him skiing down slopes, shooting some hoops, or kicking the soccer ball around. Chris is also working hard on his education and attends Duquesne University as a Pharmacy student in the off-season, this fall he will start his third year of six total. He is looking forward to being able to finally call himself a resident in the coming years and exploring more of Alaska.
Raised in beautiful Western Massachusetts, Mollie first came to Alaska out of high school to work with 72 dogs at a sled dog kennel! Even after an Alaskan winter, she’s back for more and loves being part of the crew at ARC. She just finished her first year at Macalester College in Minnesota where she studies Geography and tries to squeeze in as many languages as she can, while also playing hockey and a lot of music. She loves to laugh and hike and will swim just about anywhere any time of the year.
Yvette Galbraith – ARC Marketing Coordinator
In 2003 Yvette was introduced to a handsome fellow that owned a rafting and fishing guide business on the Kenai Peninsula. After 3 years of dating, she found herself marrying this adrenaline junkie and relocating with her two boys (Kyle and Jimmy), their dog and her marketing consulting business to Cooper Landing. Yvette was raised in Anchorage and received her degree in Marketing with a minor in Tourism Industry Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She owns and operates Alaska Marketing Consultants and handles the promotion of ARC. She loves to get away from her computer when she can, so you often can find her gardening or helping outside when needed. Also during the summer you may find her doing “extensive market research” on various raft trips or drift fishing with the employees, especially on gorgeous sunny days.
Folks in Cooper Landing love their dogs. And at ARC, we love our canines. But just to clarify before we go any further: we love our dogs, not your dog. So when visiting our facility, please leave your pooch at home. We do not allow pets in our rental cabins and being left all day in your car (especially on a hot day) is just really lame for your four-legged best friend.
Brook is the new puppy of ARC. She is only one years old. Brook is a mix between a golden retriever, yellow lab, and husky. You know what that means, absolutely adorable and hyper! She loves chase after bugs and torment her older sister, Blaze.
One word. Goof. Well two. Sweet Goof. She’s a love bug and likes her pats, rubs and any attention you give her. She has been mistaken as a bear a couple times, so since she is loved so much, we have a tendency to decorate her in bright colors so hunters know better!
She’s now the middle dog on the grounds and very spoiled. Yes, we promise you, she’s been fed. She’s a lab, she’s always hungry. And think twice about throwing that ball or stick, unless you want a friend for life.